On managing your energy over your time
Learning to do less but better
I am writing you this from a place that is a mix of calm and chaos.
Calm because we have had a lovely relaxing weekend by the pool and kids have been sleeping early, 6-7pm! (I’m guessing the kids are getting more tired because we are outdoors a lot now that the weather is getting better in Dubai)
Chaos because I am feeling the commotion that will be this week as I will be working at GITEX - one of the world’s largest tech shows. Super exciting, but manic.
And that segways beautifully into my topic today.
It’s not about managing our time better. It’s about managing our energy better.
The biggest challenge we have as working mums is always the lack of time. We never have enough time and are always running against the clock.
Throw an event like GITEX in the mix and we literally do not have a minute to spare and are left exhausted at the end of it.
I have come to realize, that the real reason we don’t have time, is because we choose to do many things. Hear me out.
Each thing we choose to do, has many other smaller things linked to it. So that ‘one’ thing we choose do, becomes a series of things that take up much more time than we account for.
For example, on Sunday mornings, I choose to take my daughter for a 30 minute swim lesson. We take 30 minutes to get ready, 15 minutes to get there, 15 minutes to get ready after swimming, 15 minutes home. So that’s say, 8am - 10am every Sunday morning.
We come home, Ria needs a shower, get changed, eat a snack; talk :) Another 30 minutes. A 30 minute activity takes at least 2-2:30 hours of my day.
In other words, I think we forget how much time things take, especially when we have children; and we still think we have time for it all.
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Guilty as charged
I am guilty of thinking I can do it all. My energy levels are usually high, I don’t need more than 6 hours of sleep, and I’m super efficient. But, I have finally realized that I cannot do it all.
Doing it all is really an impossible ask. And, there is an opportunity cost to every thing we choose to do. The choice of taking my daughter to swim lesson means I miss some time with my son, or the chance to take a long shower, or to go to the gym.
I recently read a great article in the Startup Parent where the author says:
“The competitive edge you build as a parent is the ability to say no”
As a parent, the sooner you realize this, the sooner you will realize how much it’s really about managing our energy rather than managing our time.
We need to choose what we use our energy for
Choosing carefully where we put our energy is what will save us time and give us more energy to do what we have chosen to do, better. Sarah Peck of the Startup Parent calls it having “radical focus”. Do less, but do it better.
Ryan Holiday, one of my favourite writers who is a dad, also has a great article on this, aptly titled, Work, Family, Scene: You Can Only Pick Two. He says:
If you’re as committed to the work as you are to a happy home, you can keep both but you will have no room for anything else—certainly not late nights or hangovers or exotic trips. And if you try to have it all? Well, you won’t get any of it.
I feel sheepish to say that until recently I thought I was the exception and that I could do it all. Until I woke up every day not only looking like a zombie, but feeling like one too. Fatigue at its limit.
My body and mind were loudly telling me to stop.
Last week, I slept every night at 730pm with the kids. Annoyed as I was, as I didn’t get any time to do anything for myself (my husband was traveling making it a great opportunity for me-time!), the truth is what I needed to do for myself was…sleep.
No one is an exception. Doing it all is possible, but not sustainable. Even your determination will lose if you are doing too much. Everything catches up on you over time.
So my message for you today is to make an effort to choose what you put your energy into. And say no to everything else.
My choices at the moment are prioritizing my work, my family and my well-being.
Everything else has to go. Anything that interferes or clashes with these 3 things, has to go.
So, my question to you this week is, where are you putting your energy this week?
Let me know in the comments!
Have a great week.